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IPFS News Link • History

How the ancient philosophers imagined the end of the world

• arclein

How can we explain this interest? One of the main reasons is that ancient philosophers realised that the end of the world is 'good to think with'. End-of-the-world narratives allow for a form of time travel. They offer a vision of the future while permitting us to safely witness the coming catastrophe. The stories we tell about the end of the world reveal much about our current world view and how the past and present have shaped our current trajectory. Unlike the Biblical tradition, which sees the end of the world as a day of divine wrath and judgment in which the elect are saved and the rest are damned, ancient Greek and Roman philosophers saw the end of the world as a natural process that was part of the regular functioning of the cosmos. They largely posited that human development is limited, and that humanity and world catastrophe are inextricably linked. Nature has imposed fixed and inexorable limits to human growth and development. Such messages are increasingly urgent today.